FC Dallas’ goalless draw on Sunday afternoon away to a reserve heavy LA Galaxy in Carson, along with Colorado’s home draw against Houston, proved to be enough for FCD to win its first Supporters’ Shield ever at the ground of the team with the joint most Shields.
First and foremost, managing to get the job done and win the Shield after a long and hard season with several ups and downs was obviously the biggest satisfaction to take out of yesterday. After coming close twice to winning it only to let it slip marginally in the past, including last year when FCD lost it on goal difference, it wasn’t going to happen a third time as the team made sure that it wouldn’t despite all the problems they’ve had to face throughout the year.
As for the game itself, it was a usual display of counter attacking soccer with Oscar Pareja rolling out the 4-4-2 formation in Mauro Diaz’s absence. Dallas had little of the ball in comparison to their adversaries, but created nearly three times as many chances although they didn’t manage to test Brian Rowe in goal often enough. The chance creation was at a decent standard in this game but with its faults and concerns which continues to beg the question of whether Pareja will go with 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, or even 5-3-2 as a wild card, as his primary formation in the playoffs. At least he has a few options to choose from, despite some major injury concerns.
Not many negatives to take out of this one. Defensively the team dealt well with LA’s threats up front and limited them to just a single shot on target which is impressive considering how much of the ball LA had during the game. Offensively things weren’t bad as mentioned, although they will need to improve in that area without Diaz if they are to stake a real MLS Cup claim this year.
One concern though could be the form of Tesho Akindele who looked out of sorts once again yesterday in the starting lineup. His worrying form is the reason why it’s even a question mark over whether Papi will alter the formation and system going into the playoffs and why 4-4-2 is not yet a certain route. With only one striker in the team as of late producing any real form, it may make sense for Tesho to come off the bench as a sub option in more open games where he could make all the difference just as he did in last year’s playoffs, but what Oscar will ultimately go with remains to be seen.
FC Dallas will now deservedly get a week off from any action and keep their eyes glued to their television sets on the midweek playoff knockout round games where it’ll be determined who their first MLS Cup playoff rivals will be. If RSL pull off an upset at LA, it’ll be the Utah-based team who will face FCD. Otherwise, it’ll be the winner of the Seattle-SKC meeting who Dallas will come up against. In any case, the first leg of the Western Conference semifinals will take place on Sunday, October 30 with the return in Frisco taking place a week later on November 6.